by Christian Duque
Russian bodybuilding sensation Good Vito continues to grow while prepping for his upcoming pro debut. It’s really remarkable. What he has been able to achieve in such a short amount of time since earning his pro card is remarkable. People just can’t stop talking about him on social media and on the boards. It’s like every time I look him up – he’s bigger. Literally!!
Ours has always been a sport obsessed with size and this has proven true with Samson Dauda’s big win at the 2023 Arnold, the two year reign of Big Ramy, and the fact that Nick Walker is considered a top contender for the 2023 Mr. Olympia. The fans go nuts for the giants and there’s simply no such thing has having enough size. They will always want more and a guy like Good Vito is precisely the kind of competitor that fans want to keep close tabs on. He turned pro as a giant and he going to make his first big splash by continuing to push the envelope!
As the greats often say, you only have one pro debut and how you get your pro career started accounts for a great deal. Especially since a lot of guys are clueless to not capitalizing on this very special transition from the amateurs to the pro’s.
For example, there are shows where you have an amateur and pro event on the same weekend. This allows for a person to arrive as an amateur, win pro status, and then compete in the same weekend as a pro. 99.9% of the time this is a huge missed opportunity and death to any pro career. A pro debut shouldn’t be about checking things off a bucket list. It should mean something and this is why so many guys will take anywhere from six months to two years to grow into the pro ranks. That being said, there isn’t a magic number for how long you have to wait. If you feel the time is right, then you have to seize the moment. As the old saying goes, you have to strike the Iron while it’s hot.
Good Vito has not only created a world-class physique, but he has also created a brand. To be honest with you I don’t know his real name and even if I did, I probably couldn’t pronounce it. The Russian bodybuilder has created a nickname that is easy to remember and coupled with his over-the-top size he has created a calling card of sorts that wins him fans, makes him a standout with the media, and also forces his fellow competitors to take notice of him.
You have to remember there’s a great deal of psychology in bodybuilding. Let’s not forget Pumping Iron and how important psyching out the competition is. There are pros that are for more accomplished and have been around a lot longer than Good Vito, but now they are forced to include him in the conversation. As with any star that is known simply by one name, people are going to name drop him all the time. Whether it’s media or fans or promoters, this bodybuilder is on his way to the top!! Name recognition in an industry as competitive as the fitness one is tantamount to success on stage. Sometimes it means more!
Just to be a good journalist, I looked up his name and it is Vitaly Ugolnikov. It’s a name that I could probably remember if I repeated it to myself a dozen or so times but you have to admit his nickname is liquid gold. Most people don’t have the patience to learn someone’s name if they are not from United States. I know that it’s a culturally insensitive thing to say but it’s an observation that I must make as an objective journalist in the bodybuilding world. This is why so many international competitors get overlooked, and sometimes even forgotten.
Marketing plays a fundamental role in the success of a physique-based athlete. And that has no bearing on how good their physique is or not. A lot of it comes down to if they’re being talked about or not. Therefore, coming up with a nickname as catchy as Good Vito makes all the sense in the world.
Where you live in the world also makes a big difference. Although Russia is very much a first world nation, no one can ignore the fact that its war with Ukraine has polarized it and made it somewhat of a pariah internationally. A lot of countries want nothing to do with the Russian Federation and many championships have removed it and it’s lone ally Belarus from active competition. This is all part of the world’s condemnation of the annexation of eastern Crimea.
Good Vito could have stayed in Russia and waited out the storm, but instead opted to move to Brazil where he could be able to travel freely and set up a whole new life. That’s how important bodybuilding is to him and he’s only been a pro for a short period of time. It’s also something that reigning Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan should consider, but simply will not. The champ prefers to remain living in Iran, one of the most isolated countries, in regards to the western world, as possible. Some might consider this highly irresponsible but it is what it is. To each their own. Maybe the fitness world will go to Iran and maybe I’ll regrow a full head of hair. 🤷♂️
That being said, it should be noted that Good Vito was able to dominate the IFBB Elite Pro and that much like Krizo before him, the world is expecting very big things from him in the Pro League. This is very similar to the case of prodigies who are expected to perform as soon as they hit the ground. The children of legends (e.g. Hunter Labrada, Sergio Oliva Jr) often get less leeway from the media and the fans. This treatment can be daunting and it can definitely raise cortisol levels, but I am sure that the Russian champion will rise to the occasion.
Wherever Vitaly places in the upcoming contest doesn’t really matter when you consider how much social media activity he is responsible for. The Muscle Contest event he’ll be doing is getting so much hype in some fan circles that it compares on some level to the Arnold Classic of Mr. Olympia. There’s an undeniable fascination with the two IFBB’s, how one federation’s best does in the rival group, and one simply can’t deny the Cold War implications, either.
If you think that animosity ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, you’re in for a surprise! There is still a deep-seated friendly – or not so friendly – rivalry between the United States and Russia. There’s a camp that subconsciously wants to see Good Vito fail based on just that. That same camp might want to make him out to be a villain or heel. No matter how nice he may be. Many Americans have these preconceived notions that are a product of 40 years of fear and hatred and that tendency might as well be in the water. Even thirty years after the break-up of the USSR it’s still a touchy subject on which countless marketing campaigns are based on.
Much of this rivalry comes down to credibility and when accusations of domestic violence arose dealing with the Russian champion, a great many fans took to social media, without knowing the full breath of the story. Some didn’t even know anything about the factual alligations, they simply took a side based on possibly this east versus west mentality. Many fans penned some pretty warped comments and made all sorts of character assessments that largely shared a general want of facts as a common denominator. It was only after Vitaly roundly denied the accusations and announced he’d be filing lawsuits for slander that many news outlets and fans took a step back and reassessed.
No one takes domestic violence more seriously than I do, but I would never pass judgment on an athlete or anyone else, especially not on an article or video commentary unless I knew the facts. To do anything short of that, would be to be a bad journalist.
We find ourselves in an industry where racing to break a story trumps putting out quality content. Everyone wants to be first, even if it means putting out half-truths and making a lot of assumptions. We don’t do that around here, but we certainly do call people out for doing that.
Good journalism still matters and that is the gold standard at Iron Magazine. If Good Vito is guilty then I have zero tolerance for that, but let the process play out. I don’t believe in the court of public opinion nor do I feel that YouTubers are the final word on an accused’s guilt or innocence.
Only time will tell how the Russian champion does in the Pro League and what, if anything, comes out of these accusations that have been spread all throughout social media. We will keep you informed here at Iron Magazine. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to share a link to this article on all of your social media feeds. It will surely draw some great conversation.